Iraq Car Bomb Kills At Least 20

Scene after mortar attack, Baladiyat district, Baghdad, Iraq, video still 2005/10/31 AP /APTN

A car bomb exploded Monday night in a commercial district of Iraq's second-largest city of Basra, killing at least 20 people and wounding about 40, a police official said.

The blast went off about 8:30 p.m. in an area filled with shops and restaurants, many of them packed with people out for the evening during Ramadan festivities, Lt. Col. Karim al-Zaidi.

Al-Zaidi, who said 20 were killed and 40 were wounded, added that the number of deaths was expected to rise.

Witnesses reported scenes of chaos and rescue vehicles raced to the scene. Dazed survivors, their clothing stained with blood, stumbled in the darkness or wept in despair.

Body parts could be seen on the street, the witnesses said.

Also Monday, six American soldiers were killed in separate attacks and U.S. military officials said a Marine died in action the day before.

The deaths made October the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq since January.

In other developments:

  • A military tribunal in Kuwait has opened hearings for an Army sergeant charged with killing two superior officers in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Alberto Martinez faces murder charges in the June seventh incident. Military authorities say the soldier rigged a bomb to explode at an Army base.

  • A brother of one of Iraq's two vice presidents was shot and killed Sunday on his way to work in Baghdad, officials said. Ghalib Abdul-Mahdi, brother of Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi, was gunned down along with his driver at 7:45 a.m. while traveling to work at the office of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, two aides to the vice president said.

  • In another part of Baghdad, four gunmen ambushed a convoy carrying acting Trade Minister Qais Dawood Hasan after it left his office in the upscale Mansour neighborhood, police said. Hasan was wounded, two of his guards killed, and six other people injured, five guards and an Iraqi passer-by, said police 1st Lt. Thair Mahmoud and Dr. Mohanad Jawad at Yarmouk Hospital.

  • On Saturday, a bomb hidden in a truck loaded with dates exploded in the center of the Shiite farming village of Huweder, about 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing 30 people and wounding 41, said Dr. Ahmed Fouad of nearby Baqouba General Hospital.

    In the worst attack Monday against U.S. troops, four Task Force Baghdad soldiers died when their patrol struck a roadside bomb in Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad, the military said.

    Two other soldiers from the 29th Brigade Combat Team were also killed in a bombing Monday near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The U.S. military also said a Marine was killed Sunday near Amiriyah, 25 miles west of Baghdad.

    Those deaths raised the death toll for October to more than 90, the highest monthly total since January when 107 American service members died. The latest deaths brought to 2,025 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003.

    Elsewhere, U.S. jets bombed two insurgent "safe houses" near the Syrian border Monday in an attack aimed at al Qaeda in Iraq, and coalition forces swept through several areas of Baghdad, taking nearly 100 suspected militants into custody, the U.S. command said.

    Two separate mortar attacks in Baghdad and northern Iraq killed three people and wounded 11.
    • Joel Roberts

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